Nikola Vucevic opened up about the trade that sent him to the Chicago Bulls at the deadline in an emotional conversation with reporters Saturday.
The 30-year-old, who spent the nearly the entirety of his NBA career with the Orlando Magic—save for his rookie year, when he appeared in 51 games for the Philadelphia 76ers, who drafted him with the No. 16 pick in 2011—was sent to Chicago alongside Al-Farouq Aminu in exchange for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and a pair of first-round picks.
He said he was aware that the Magic were discussing him in trades leading up to the deadline.
"There were talks, and I knew about it. I also appreciate the Magic giving me a heads-up about it," he said, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. "They decided to go in a different direction. We felt like it was a good time to do this."
A two-time All-Star, Vucevic leaves the franchise as its third-most productive scorer (10,423 points) and the player with the second-most rebounds (6,381).
In a season that saw the Magic decimated by injuries, the franchise embarked on a rebuild leading up to the trade deadline. Evan Fournier was traded to the Boston Celtics, while Aaron Gordon and Gary Clark were sent to the Denver Nuggets.
Vucevic, who is under contract through 2023, acknowledged that it was time to move on.
"The team there just kind of hit a ceiling, so we figured out it was time," he said. "It was difficult for me because I spent so much time there. But I'm looking forward to this new challenge. I'm very excited for it."
Vucevic got the start on Saturday, making his first appearance since 2012 with a team other than Orlando. Alongside Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Patrick Williams and Tomas Satoransky, he dropped 21 points and tallied nine rebounds in Chicago's 120-104 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
He'll be back in action with Chicago on Monday against the Golden State Warriors (10 p.m. ET), and the Magic come to town on April 14 at 8 p.m. ET.